Happy fun mom

One of the things that irks me sometimes as a stay at home mom is Happy Fun Dad. DH comes home from work, and the party begins. Never mind that I've been doing all the work all day--Jacob only has eyes for Dad. They play fight, they play pirates, they play hide and seek, and both of them seem absolutely thrilled to do it. Dad does all the things that Jacob has been bugging Mom to do all day, and the result of that is that dad is SO much more fun than mom. Can't beat mom for healing and kissing the boo-boos and the owees, but if you want some serious lightsaber wars, Dad is the go-to guy. One time DH said to me, after a particularly rousing wrestling match with his offspring, "Do you ever do this with him?" After my emphatic no, he asked, "Don't you ever actually play with your son?" Sadly, the answer to that is also no. I rarely play with my son, just because there is always so much to do, and his need for play long outlasts my endurance and energy for such. I feel like I try to take Jacob fun places and give him lots of educational and exciting experiences, but when it comes to just plain old one-on-one, I'm afraid I fall rather short. And of course, the guilt about that is constant. But I try to tell myself that Dad is so much more fun because he hasn't been hanging out with the little bugger all day, and hasn't been slowly worn down after 8-10 hours of dealing with the energy of a 3 year old. Now, this week we have been enjoying the beauty and adventure of Aspen Grove, the BYU family camp where you get to dump your kids all day and go pretend for a week that you are a real adult. You can do whatever you want, from sitting like a lump and blogging, to playing cards all day, to the adult slip-'n-slide down the hill. The kids have structured activities in their age groups, and hopefully, they have some fun too (although at the end of the day, I suspect it really amounts to creative day care, at least for the little ones. But I'm not complaining!) One day, after not seeing Jacob for pretty much the entire day, I was thrilled to hold him, to hug him, to swing him upside down, and we played superheros for a good 30 minutes, just me and him. I thought, "Hey, look at me! I'm being Happy Fun Mom, and I'm actually ENJOYING it!" So I'm thrilled that my guilt assauging message to myself about dad being so much fun because he doesn't do all the work all day is actually true. Not seeing your kid so much actually does make you more fun! Not that I'm saying we should dump our kids on somebody else all day. Kids need more in a parent than just fun. But it did make me feel better about the marked disparity of my behavior towards my son and my husband's. It also makes me wonder how exciting he would be after a day of hanging out with nobody else but a 3 year old. It makes me smile to think of him saying, "Thank goodness you're home! Take this child now, I've had it. I need a break. I'm going out for an almond steamer and a pedicure."


Blogger Lisa M. said...

Almond stemer. Great.

I echo your feelings in every way.

8/18/2005 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Isn't it great to actually get to miss your kids!!! I highly recommend doing it once it a while.

8/19/2005 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger mindy said...

Heather, I was thinking about this same think just last night (as our 7 1/2 month old son brightened up, obviously tickled pink to see dad walk in the door). I do actually play with the kids some most days, but I think we have to look at it in terms of proportion. We SAHmoms spend 8-10 hours alone with the kids every day, so even if we do play with them for a half hour or even an hour straight, that's only 1/8 - 1/16 the total time with us. Dad sees the kids maybe 3-4 hours, max, between work and bedtime, and he spends 1/2 hour of intense play. Plus it's at the end of the day, typically, when mom is "done" and so dad seems even more like "Happy Fun Dad" by contrast.

Anyways, all that to say, I agree. You can't be Happy Fun Mom all day long, otherwise nothing would get done and you'd go crazy. (I can only handle one game of Candy Land!) Plus, I don't think moms are supposed to be ultimate playmate for their kids. I think we are supposed to facilitate fun for the kids...arrange playdates, suggest activities, take them to fun & interesting places, etc. I think the ability to self-entertain is one of the most essential human skills, as it helps people learn to deal with and even enjoy being alone, which I think is healthy.

And yes, breaks from your kids are fantastic for reminding you how wonderful they are!

8/19/2005 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger ashley said...

I really love Aspen Grove too, Heather. It's just the right amount of space and freedom--I've got so much more energy and the children seem that much more precious after a few hours away.

But regular life just doesn't provide that kind of break and I completely empathize with your feelings!

8/19/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

Playing with my kids got much better once they got old enough for real Legos. I build a mean castle and have earned some serious respect for that skill! I'm also frequently allowed to be Wonder Woman reading a book, cooking dinner or resting while Batman or the Flash fights off the bad guys. So hang in there! It gets easier!

8/19/2005 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

You're okay, Heather. Your boy is feeling the security of your constant presence and taking for granted (as he should)that his mommy loves him and will take care of him. Would that every child had that blessing. Go easy on you.

8/19/2005 06:09:00 PM  
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8/21/2005 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

I felt the same way about Fun Dad. It seemed like he always got to be the good-time parent, while I was stuck all day making them do things they didn't want to do, like homework, baths, changing diapers, etc. I decided Greg needed to have more opportunities to be no fun, so now whenever he's home by bedtime, he gets to take over whatever necessary evils need to be addressed before bedtime while I hide somewhere.

It's helped that in the last couple of years my two oldest can now play games that I can stand (unlike Candyland); now if we have time after dinner, but before Dad gets home, we play Uno or Sorry together and have fun (toddler boy still runs wild during this time).

8/21/2005 01:14:00 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

The other night was Steve's turn to put the kids down. I made sure to come home from running errands right in the middle of story time, equipped with a fun new toy. I got the kids all riled up, then said "I'm going running--I'll be back in 45 minutes."

Mean, but soooooo satisfying!

8/21/2005 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...


I'm going to try that tonight. Thanks!

8/22/2005 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger john f. said...

Well, I saw you playing baseball with Jacob up there at Aspen Grove and it looked like you were definitely the happy fun mom to me. Good job! And nice to meet you, by the way.

8/24/2005 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


You must have stopped paying attention, because as soon as your nephew Charlie really got into the game, I ditched the kids completely and played cards with the adults. Really, Happy Fun Mom only lasts for so long, even at Aspen Grove.

Nice to meet you too.

8/24/2005 07:58:00 PM  
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